Today’s fast-food franchises offer much more than just burgers and fries
Franchisors have taken fast food to a new level. Whether you call it QSR (quick-service restaurant), fast food or fast-casual, a new generation of restaurants has been cropping up and offering quick meals without guilt. Replacing fat-laden, greasy fare with more healthy and diverse options, today’s healthy fast-food choices include exotic and custom creations for just about every taste. Although burgers and fries will always have their place, now so will poké bowls, dinner salads, and smoothies.
Not only have the menus improved with healthy fast-food franchises, but so have the business models. These businesses are easier to run and many don’t require expensive equipment, complicated buildouts, or million-plus investments.
From organic juices to fresh, Mediterranean fare, the different ways to own a healthy fast-food franchise are seemingly endless. Here is a look at 7 types of healthy fast-food franchises that are not only rewarding to own and simpler to manage, but most are easier and less expensive to start up than traditional fast-food brands.
Tacos may have a bad rap for being unhealthy, but now customers can find many new and healthful franchised Mexican brands including Taco Del Mar (cover photo). The brand opened its first restaurant in 1992 on Pier 57 in Seattle’s historic waterfront district and was founded by brothers James and John Schmidt, who came up with the restaurant name based on the restaurant’s original specialty, fish tacos. Even Taco Bell has put some healthier options on its menu. Probably the most well-known fast-food Mexican restaurant, it is certainly not the only brand in the space. Since the company came on the scene in 1962, it has reinvented itself many times over by embracing technology and adding healthier options to keep up with the times and competition.
Food bowls have become wildly popular over the past several years. Not only do food bowls look aesthetically pleasing, but they are also filled with delicious flavors and ingredients. The bowl trend began with smoothie bowls and has expanded to different bowl varieties, such as poké and multi-grain salads. Rush Bowls, for example, is a smoothie bowl franchise that blends natural fruits and veggies according to the customer’s desires. Rush Bowls promises franchisees a food business without hoods, ovens, or grills; just blenders and a freezer! The company says that because of its simple model, franchisees enjoy the revenues and stability of the restaurant business without the headaches. At Poké Bar, customers feast on a Hawaiian staple that features raw, diced fish tossed with rice, vegetables, and sauces.
Juices have become a major part of our diets. People have come to understand that juice can provide the nutrients and vitamins they need all in a few sips. This juice craze has become big business and is definitely here to stay. Busy moms and well-known athletes have picked up on this growing trend. Clean Juice, for example, has enlisted NFL player Tim Tebow as its brand ambassador. The brand is known for its USDA-certified organic cold-pressed juices, cleansing programs, and cold-pressed wellness shots.
Salads will never go out of style and neither will a quick and easy way to get one. Two great options are Chicken Salad Chick and Saladworks. Chicken Salad Chick offers a creative twist on a traditional staple — chicken salad. Guests are offered house-made chicken salads to please every palate; everything from the traditional to the savory, fruity, and spicy. With fun names like Olivia’s Old South, Fancy Nancy, and Kickin’ Kay Lynne, Chicken Salad Chick says everything they make is made fresh and served from the heart. With more than 100 locations nationwide, Saladworks has created a loyal fan base with guilt-free salads, soups, wraps, and more.
Like juice, smoothies are also here to stay. In 1989, Smoothie King became the first Smoothie franchise in the United States. Since then, the brand has grown to more than 1,300 locations throughout the U.S. and internationally. Smoothie King has capitalized on its smoothie-focused business model, with healthier retail offerings such as sports beverages, energy bars, nutritious snacks, vitamin supplements, herbs, minerals, and other nutrition products. Another option is Tropical Smoothie Cafe, which in addition to serving smoothies, also offers flatbreads, wraps, and quesadillas.
Bakery and deli
From breakfast to lunch to even dinner, deli and bakery franchises run the gamut in what they sell. Franchises like Freshii and Panera Bread are dedicated to creating fast, quality food that is affordable and enjoyable. At Panera Bread, freshly-prepared food and baked goods have created a loyal customer base. But owning a Panera franchise is reserved for big investors. Panera Bread does not sell single-unit franchises, so it is not possible to open just one. Rather, the brand sells market areas that require the franchise developer to open a number of units, typically 15 units, in a period of 6 years. On the other hand, an investor can launch a single Freshii location for a more modest average total investment of $170,000 – $470,500.
Getting falafel on the go just got a whole lot easier thanks to franchising. At Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, simplicity and a traditional Mediterranean menu bring in customers. Offering authentic family recipes such as traditional gyros, stuffed pitas, and wraps, customers can pick their protein, veggies, and sauce for a delicious and nutritious custom meal. Similarly, at The Simple Greek, customers can customize pitas or bowls with traditional Greek favorites and sides, including dolmades (rice and herbs rolled in grape leaves) and Spanakopita (a Greek savory spinach pie).